It wasn’t the usual tailgating party. For starters, the line was mostly women. Instead of beer and burgers in the afternoon, it was coffee and mimosas in the morning. The crowd wasn’t looking forward to a kickoff or a concert—they were waiting in line for the start of Pearls Day Out, a promotion at Mankato, Minn., jewelry store Exclusively Diamonds.
“The parking lot was absolutely full,” Exclusively Diamonds president Sarah Person says. “It was 9:30 in the morning, and we were drinking champagne and having a ball.”
The first 100 customers through the door received a free gift, and, once inside, a pearl supplier showed numerous items of pearl jewelry for women to choose from. Person says the day was “all women, all day long—just celebrating.”
Pearls Day Out took place two years ago, but Exclusively Diamonds began hosting events in the name of jewelry several years earlier. These elaborate occasions are planned meticulously in advance but always contain several elements that Person says are essential to a successful promotion. “Each time, we want [customers] to be wowed so they go out and talk about what they saw,” she says. “We also want them to have an urgency to buy.”
Truly successful occasions combine the wow factor and the profit motive. “Ideally, the event not only wows customers but also generates sales,” Person says.
Person notes that one of her most financially successful events was last year’s Evening of Dreams, a fancy cocktail party in December for couples. “Everyone dressed up,” she says, and a three-piece jazz trio played throughout the evening. Every participant received a gift certificate at the door that had to be used that night. Person credits the fete’s success to the seasonal timing and the strong incentive for customers to purchase at the event.
At another successful promotion planned by Person and her nearly all-female staff, a female master diamond cutter from South Africa showed a private collection of her best stones. Customers could ask questions about the cutting process, view pictures of the cutter at work, and purchase numbered and laser-inscribed stones from the collection.
“I think it’s neat when you get a bunch of women in the store,” Person says. “They egg each other on and purchase more. It’s empowering for women to buy jewelry on their own. Some months we can count our biggest sales as women self-purchase.”
Person says Exclusively Diamonds occasionally repeats ideas (but only every couple of years), but usually they try to create new ones. “Some of the wow factor is the novelty of the event—if it’s new and unique,” she says. This year’s events are all new.
Even if an event doesn’t pull in the profit that’s expected, it still works as a customer appreciation event, Person says. “If you look at it as customer appreciation, then everything’s successful. They might not have made a purchase, but they had fun.”